Congrats to Jocelyn Dyckson of Joss’s Hair & Skin Care

BizInsuranceCongrats to Jocelyn Dyckson of Joss’s Hair & Skin Care for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

 

 

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Congrats to Laura West of Miss Jessie’s Soaps

BizInsuranceCongrats to Laura West of Miss Jessie’s Handmade Soaps for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Congrats to Colleen Hoitt of Rose Moon Soap

BizInsuranceCongrats to Colleen Hoitt of Rose Moon Soap for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

My 5 Most Important Business Tips

SoapaloozaWORD-LogoThis article is something that I originally wrote for my old Southern Soapers forum in response to customers asking how I built BloomWorks Soap Company. These five things are what I felt were the most important elements of growing my, or any Soap or Bath & Body business.

I have updated this 2003 article to include not only Google page ranking aspects, but also social media that has since exploded, as well as some of the new marketing tools that potential customers with Smart Phones have at their fingertips.

Real paper and honest face to face time (even via Skype or Youtube videos!) are still the core to creating authenticity for gaining and sustaining customer trust though, and this is still a key component for these 5 most important business tips.

My five key tips for any business, regardless of what you might be selling are:

1. Pay a professional to do your website. It is an investment, the “E-retail” image you will convey. It is also easier to hurt the feelings of a designer you are paying, than hurt the feelings of a relative you still have to live with. It is easier to be demanding and exacting so that you get what you really want as your company image. You can get a quality website from many designers, as little as $300 to as much as $3500, depending on level of design, features, complexity, and shopping cart functionality suited for your needs.

2. Invest in Quality Labeling/Packaging. Get a good color laser printer and get nice clear, glossy, or matte waterproof labels. Your label and packaging will not only be your first impression made to a buyer, but also your foot in the door to many opportunities. Invest in the most professional presentation of your product that you can afford. Each labeled product is your company ambassador in bathrooms and homes all over, hopefully flung far and wide!

3. Front Load your profit margin. Buy fixed oils, essential oils, and other raw ingredients and supplies in bulk. 50% of your profit margin is tied to the buying side of your business. Money not spent is money in the bank.

4. Cost in your Time, and Work Smart. The opportunity cost of what you would be doing otherwise, in conjunction to what you would have to pay in wages for another to do it when you can no longer do everything on your own, is a good rule of thumb. Set your processes up so that you are using your time at maximum efficiency. Stop and review your highest expenses each month. Evaluate and streamline your time. That is where you will also find a large hidden profit center: Use of one’s time… Less time used means less cost per bar, in turn resulting in higher profit margin.

5. Market Yourself and Your Product. Start with products you love, believe in, and can get ‘Religiously Fanatical’ about. Beware of spreading yourself too thin, do what you do best! I advise new business owners to select a maximum of 5 products to sell (example: soap, scrub, bath bombs, lotion, lip balms). Push for the highest price per ounce that the market will bear on those products, so that when you do offer discounts, the ‘discount’ is really the initial price you might have been willing to settle for! Remember, you can never compete on price alone, there will always be someone willing to undercut you. Promote your products with a price that reflects their exclusive nature.

Build attractive Marketing materials. Even if you do not have an artistic bone in your body, you can find polished templates at places like Vista Print. Decide if you are going to be strictly Retail, Wholesale, or a combination of both. Choose a cohesive color scheme, logo, and “theme” for your business and marketing materials. This should reflect well what your products and business are trying to project. Create a business card. Develop a series of branded collateral (marketing) materials that include possibly a glossy, two sided company presentation, or showcase sheet, a tri fold brochure on your products, a post card that can be sent to special loyal customers on their birthday, and a sell sheet (if you are wholesale).

Use QR codes on your business cards and flyers so that the Smart Phone Savvy will use this function to immediately use them to “like” you on Facebook, sign up for your newsletter, and/or access a Coupon you might be promoting.

Use good search engine optimization practices; join the Handmade Soap & Cosmetics Guild and/or the Indie Business Network professional trade associations. Connect with the Social Media channels. Be sure to create links from higher Goggle page ranking sites that will market your product to prospective buyers, not just industry peers. The Handmade Soap & Cosmetics Guild, The Indie Business Network, the Real Handmade Soap Index, all have ‘authoritative’ Goggle Page Ranks of 5 or greater.

Generally the average soap website falls at 1, 2 or 3… on a scale of 1 being the lowest, and 10 the highest. Etsy has a 9. Seek to link with websites that have higher page ranks than your own. Keep in mind that forwards and redirects from your main index.html page to a /cart or /store landing will show a deduction of one full rank point from your page ranking of the /cart or /store website level, but that your website will still benefit from the overall network effect in Google Search returns from the higher index.html page rank score. You just will not get to see it due to the redirect. Don’t try to figure Google out, they change too frequently. Just concentrate on a quality presence in a variety of advertising venues.

You can go to Google.com and download the page rank tool and install it on your toolbar, it will show you PR on every website you visit, if they have a PR.

Last, I would recommend using customer testimonials, Blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Etsy, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and other social networking tools to build and extend your web of network and social media links. Each link to your business in the blogosphere and internet creates a new interstitial connection to your business website. All auction listings, blog entries, and many public forum postings are indexed by Google and contribute to your website ranking. Create and Repeat ‘Talking Points’ in your signature files, blog posts, emails, and any blogosphere dialogues. Build your own news releases, press release, and online dialogue, even if no one else is ‘listening’ yet.

Gradually, you will increase in mass like a snowball rolling down a mountain, effectively creating your own true “Network Effect”.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Soapalooza is using QR Codes Now

QRCodeSoapalooza is going to be using some QR codes for local advertising, and also for a few outgoing coupons that we include with this year’s soap gatherings. Don’t worry, we will put the regular coupon information on the back also!

I am so excited about this addition to our advertising methods though. I often drive around in Richmond, VA and I notice these scattered ALL over different local advertising brochures, restaurant advertising, theater information, even some of the schools are using them!

Once I noticed these QR codes I got really curious… what were they used for? So, I downloaded a QR reader to my Iphone and started scanning! That is when the fun started! Some codes are advertisements, some are slogans, some are feel good perky comments, and many are “like me on Facebook”, and some just point to their websites (bands, restaurants, local biz). One even said “2 Margarita’s for the price of 1 during Happy Hour!“.  I loved it though! It is like an Easter Egg Hunt

Soapalooza will be driving around in the Williamsburg, Richmond, and Petersburg area in the white XJS Jaguar with Soapalooza signage that has QR Codes! I will be wearing my pink sunhat, big black sunglasses, and my blonde hair flying in the wind! You will need to scan that code to see what the Soapalooza QR Code says!

KellyinCar
Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

Good Luck, and Safe Soapmaking from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Congrats to Kristina Nanninga

BizInsuranceCongrats to Kristina Nanninga for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them.

Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

(This Rebate Program is sponsored solely by BloomWorks Holdings, LLC / Soapalooza. Please do not request your rebate from the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild or the Independent Business Network. )

Congrats to Janel of The Candle Attic

BizInsuranceCongrats to Janel of The Candle Attic for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

Congrats to Allison Nichole Handmade Bath & Body

BizInsuranceCongrats to Allison Nichole of Handmade Bath & Body for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!
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/Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

Congrats to Darlene Kelley of Shadow Wings Farms

BizInsuranceCongrats to Darlene Kelley of Shadow Wings Farms for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!
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/Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

How to handle a lye spill

redcrownlyeA few months ago some soapmakers were discussing how they spilled some lye in their workspace. They talked about how they doused the area with a jug of vinegar to clean up the chemical spill (lye is a chemical).

Not many soapmakers were chemists in their former lives, or even are accustomed to handling chemicals prior to learning to make cold process or hot process soap. Because of this, there is a gap of education on handling some of the chemicals we use in our manufacturing process.
Lye is also known as NaOH, or Sodium hydroxide. It is very base, or alkaline. Vinegar is also known as Acetic Acid. Remember that grade school science project you used to do to create a volcano? Adding vinegar to the paper mache cone that was primed with baking soda? You got the most awesome foam pouring up and out of your paper mache volcano! That is because baking soda is a mild base, an alkaline. And again, your vinegar is a weak acid. But you still get a pretty violent exothermic reaction with your self contained, homemade volcano action!

If you read your MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on your sodium hydroxide, in one of the sections there are written instructions on how to manage any type of sodium hydroxide spill. What to do if the spill is dry flakes or beads, and what to do if it is a liquid solution spill.

The number one method of clean up is using simply H2O, also known as WATER. Water dilutes the strength of the lye solution or spill. Water prevents a chemical reaction of acid and alkali, and the resulting exothermic heat discharged during neutralization. You do not want any heat when cleaning up or neutralizing, especially if there is any sodium hydroxide on your skin! The exothermic reaction of lye and vinegar is much stronger than lye and water. Water weakens the lye spill so that it is safer to clean up.

If you spill lye in dry form, clear the area of people and pets. Carefully sweep the area up. Corrosive-Danger-Sign-S-0447Wet mop the area with plain, cold water. Later, you can spray a vinegar solution and then mop up again with water to make sure full neutralization has occurred.

Be sure to wear gloves and goggles. Remove your clothes afterward and wash them. If your spill is in liquid form, clear the area of pets and people again.

Wear gloves, protective boots, and goggles. If you have Tyvek coveralls, wear them also if this is more than your counter or a small floor spill. Use rags that can be discarded to absorb as much excess liquid as possible. When wet, toss in your kitchen sink with running water to dilute them. Wring them out and absorb as much of your liquid lye solution from your counter or floor as possible. Using plain water, mop up the area again until you have absorbed and rinsed the area.

You can use the vinegar spray to now neutralize any residual alkalinity now that you have diluted and absorbed the mass of sodium hydroxide solution. Continue to rinse out your rags you used to absorb the spill with, giving them a vinegar rinse before discarding them or washing them in your washer.

The number one reason you do not want to simply douse your Lye spill with vinegar is because of the massive exothermic heat that is discharged. This can cause extreme damage to skin! Trisha Magistro explained the process with a chemical equation for those of you than would like to see that:

“If it’s (the lye spill) a solid (and there is no moisture on your hand) it’s not a problem. However, when you add water (even the little bit of water from perspiration), it will dissolve the NaOH and dissociate it into Na+ ions and OH- ions. The former are harmless. The latter will cause caustic burns. Adding water will make more OH- ions.

Rinsing it with vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COO-H or H-Ac for short) will neutralize it, though this is also exothermic. The reaction is:

Na-OH + H-Ac –> H2O + Na-Ac

(actually, it’s Na+ + OH- + H+ + Ac- –>H2O + Na+ + Ac- )

This will happen very fast, and produce a lot of heat, which will cause burns. So the best way is to rinse as much of it off quickly with water and then neutralize the tiny bit that’s left with vinegar.”  (thank you Trisha Magistro for letting us reprint your chemical reaction equation here).

So, using Water (H2O) is what is recommended for cleaning up lye spills. Vinegar is not recommended on the MSDS.

Spraying a vinegar solution mist on your work area after you have cleaned up the lye spill will not harm anything, but vinegar is not your primary liquid to use to clean up a lye spill of any kind.

If you keep large quantities of Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) on your premises, you also need to retain a copy of your MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on your sodium hydroxide for the safety of any emergency responders. This MSDS link is a generic MSDS for dry sodium hydroxide, and one that you can print off to have in your records, regardless whom you purchase your NaOH from.

Good Luck, and Safe Soapmaking!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!